Xi Jinping’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants to dominate the world. But the Chinese President need not look very far for a brutal reality check. A tiny island across the narrow Formosa Strait- Taiwan is challenging the Chinese hegemony. Beijing claims that Taiwan is a part of mainland China, and even wants to invade the island nation. But Taiwan has proved itself a hard nut to crack.
Now, the Taiwanese government has begun building a submarine fleet that will further deter any cross-Strait misadventures by Beijing. China is building eight state-of-the-art submarines and the construction on the first one began last month. The first submarine is expected to be ready for sea trials by 2025.
Taiwan has chosen extremely stealthy submarine designs which can exert a heavy toll on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). The island nation will build diesel-electric submarines, instead of the nuclear-powered ones. Diesel-electric submarines are cheaper and even more importantly, the electric motors produce less noise when submerged in water, as compared to nuclear reactors.
During any cross-Strait military conflict, the PLA’s anti-submarine warfare (ASW) would find it difficult to detect the noise-less submarines. The stealthy submarines will help Taiwan in intercepting and attacking Chinese troops trying to cross the narrow Formosa Strait in case of any invasion plans.
Taiwan’s submarine plan makes a lot of sense, as Beijing has never dared to invade the tiny island only because it is widely accepted that the invasion of Taiwan is a bloody, logistical nightmare- one that the People’s Liberation Army is too inexperienced to handle.
China will have to face geographically adverse conditions in case of an attempted Taiwan invasion. The PLA will have to transport hundreds of soldiers through the narrow Taiwan Strait into hostile landing beaches. Thereafter, Chinese troops will find it hard to sustain themselves while finding their way through dense mountains to reach Taipei.
Now, imagine a stealthy submarine fleet intercepting Chinese soldiers in the narrow Taiwan Strait. Any such PLA action would become a real death knell for Chinese troops, with Taiwanese submarines unleashing all their firepower.
Taiwan’s President understands that powerful submarines are absolutely necessary for stalling any Chinese aggression. At a ceremony marking the beginning of the submarines programme, Tsai described it as a “historic milestone” which “demonstrates Taiwan’s strong will to the world.”
Till now, it seemed as if China was bullying Taiwan. Xi Jinping’s China has grown extremely belligerent and the Chinese President has refused to rule out the use of force, if necessary, against Tsai. China has also been stepping up military pressure on the island nation over the past several months by sending fighter aircraft into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.
Xi Jinping would have thought that he will be able to kill Taiwan’s intent to defend itself by keeping the region on the boil for a prolonged time and creating war hysteria through aggressive military posturing. But Taiwan’s President is defying him with her grand submarine plans.
Tsai maintains that Taiwan is the beacon of democracy and is ready to defend “democracy from authoritarian aggression” in Asia. She will not give up in face of Chinese bullying. Taipei understands how China’s military posturing strategy works and Taiwan’s military forces are now ready to inflict heavy costs on the Chinese PLA, in case it tries to rake up a real military conflict.